8 years on - No word on fatal circumcision
The unsolved deaths of their sons almost eight years ago has left parents haunted by questions about what it was that went so horribly wrong in Ward 48 in Vergenoeg, Atteridgeville, when the boys disappeared into the nearby mountains and died at an illegal initiation school.
Members of their families and residents said last week they had failed to move on because the police had not come forward with answers, nor had anyone been brought to book.
“What we fail to understand is what they have been doing all this time,” community member Stella Tshiezela said.
She and other residents said the police had been given leads and knew who the owners of the school were. “But they were never asked to account for the deaths,” they said.
Albino Makhanya, showing the two gold medals his son, Jonathan Makubo, had won in the week before he disappeared from home, said he had hoped his son would grow up to become an international athlete, a doctor or even the president.
Makubo did not come back from school on a Friday in June 2003, and barely a week later the family were told he had died.
“When his friends brought his bag from school they said he had stayed behind to tend to his school garden. He was a keen agriculture student and had won accolades for his produce,” Makhanya said.
That week, the boy, then 14, had brought home a medal for athletics and another for his soccer skills.
When he had not arrived home by nightfall, his worried father had gone in search for him, but had not found him.
“The following morning we got a message that he was in initiation school, a tradition my family did not subscribe to,” Makhanya said.
The owners failed to meet him when he asked them to. Before the week was out, the police arrived to tell him that Makubo had died on the mountain. They promised an investigation.
“My world fell apart. His older brothers took over and Jonathan was buried, but no one from the initiation school came to offer their condolences or to shed light on our boy’s last moments,” Makhanya said.
The absence of information, the silence of the police and the refusal by the state to release the boy’s post-mortem results have held the family back.
Rose Skosana, whose son Derrick, 13, suffered the same fate, said: “All we are left with are nightmares of our frightened children, dragged to the mountain and butchered by unscrupulous adults, who have been allowed to live freely among us.”
Derrick son was grabbed off the street while playing soccer on May 31. Three days later they were told he was on the mountain.
“Just as we were struggling to come to terms with that the police arrived to tell us that he had died,” the grieving mother said.
Describing the sight that met the family at the state morgue, Skosana said her son’s face was contorted in a grimace of pain, his eyes and mouth were open, and vomit covered his face and head.
“When his father inspected the circumcision wound he found that more than just his foreskin had been removed, the scar ran all the way down to his naval.”
Skosana said that after the funeral the family opened a case with the Atteridgeville police, who promised to investigate the death and bring the perpetrators to book, “but we heard nothing from them for months, until we went back to find out if anything had come up”.
The community and families said they had waited all these years for the case to reach court.
They had been told it would go to the Pretoria High Court, but in January they found that all investigations had been dropped.
“They said key information had been taken from the docket, and they could do nothing more,” community member Dan Tisane said.
Health Department spokesman Simon Zwane said the results of post-mortems were confidential and released to the police and families. Atteridgeville police spokesman Constable Nari Setati failed to respond to enquiries. - Pretoria News